As Geri Walsh discovered in 2012, sometimes the simplest things can make such a big difference in life.
The Sterling Heights mother of three was struggling. As a single mother of three boys – at the time ages 15, 16 and 21 – Geri was fighting breast cancer. The boys’ father had passed away on Christmas 2001, and Geri had been raising them on her own ever since.
In the meantime, the home Geri and her husband had purchased in 1998 was deteriorating. The roof for both the house and the garage was falling apart. The air conditioner hadn’t worked in a few years. The furnace was old and the air ducts needed to be cleaned. It all just kept piling up.
“I was a single mom to three very active boys. And that’s not easy in and of itself,” said Geri. “Our shingles looked really bad. The city wanted us to fix them up. They were threatening to fine us, and we just couldn’t do it. I was going through cancer treatment at the time and I had to quit my job.”
So when Geri’s aunt heard about a local roofing company in Shelby Township who was conducting a contest for a free roof, she immediately thought about her niece. That year the family did not win; however, in 2013, a group from their church once again took up the task of nominating the family. This time, they were successful.
“We were elated, shocked. I still can’t really put it into words,” said Geri.
Owners of Ridgecon, a Shelby Township-based roofing company that has been serving Macomb County and beyond for over 20 years, came to the house and did an estimate on all the work Geri’s home needed. Although the contest winner was only promised a new roof, once they saw the work that needed to be done at Geri’s home, they got other companies involved to help with the extras like air conditioning.
“We are still so grateful,” said Geri.
According to Dena Elie, who does marketing and communications for the business, the No Roof Left Behind project was started by her family in 2009 when the economy really took a bad hit. Dena said her family members would come home feeling downhearted because many locals were having a hard time making ends meet.
“Everyone was really struggling a lot,” she said, adding that a new roof costs around $8,500. “Some customers could only replace tarps on their roof, not the actual roof. So we decided to use our corporate discipline to give back to the community.”
That first year, the contest garnered over 100 donations. In 2011, the contest was featured in a trade publication and before the company knew it, roofers from all over the nation were calling to get advice on how to start similar contests in their areas. Despite the continued success of the campaign in other regions, Dena said Ridgecon is struggling to find nominations here. So far this year, only four have been submitted.
“We know there are still so many people that need help,” she said. “We’re here; we are poised to give the roof away. We just need the community’s help in finding out where these people are.”
Today, Geri is remarried and still fighting her cancer. Her treatment continues to go well. Geri said the doctors are amazed by her. She said she thinks it was the generosity of Ridgecon that helped her through a difficult time.
“Any way we can help them, we try to do it – to refer people to them. It’s just really awesome, it’s made a big difference,” she said.
To read more about past award winners or the nomination and voting process, visit http://noroofleftbehind.com/program/mi/1164.
Sarah Cormier works for the Macomb County Executive Office, often writing about interesting activities taking place in Macomb County.